For eight seasons Nate Ebner has made his living as a special teams player, helping the New England Patriots win three Super Bowl titles in the process.
On a Tuesday conference call with New York media, Ebner, who signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants in free agency, explained the importance of special teams.
Ebner called plays in the kicking game “a one-play series.”
“You don’t get four downs,” he said. “You don’t have a bunch of opportunities. You get one chance and sometimes those opportunities can be game-changing opportunities.
“Every game you’re going to get a handful of opportunities to change a game, and special teams plays truly do change a game.
“I love the kicking game. It’s a one-play series that’s balls to the wall ... Every single play in the kicking game is absolutely full speed and a dogfight. It’s fun.”
Ebner has played 2,395 snaps on special teams in his career, compared to a miniscule 139 as a defensive player. All of those were with new Giants head coach Joe Judge as either special teams assistant or coordinator in New England.
“I’m not going to act like he [Judge] didn’t have part in my coming there,” Ebner said. “Obviously I’ve built a good relationship with him and a rapport with him.”
What can Giants fans expect from their rookie head coach?
“He pays attention to the details,” Ebner said. “He comes to work with a lot of energy and he did that consistently in the eight years that I’ve known him. I think that’s a real genuine part of him.
“At the end of the day he cares about his guys. I can’t say that about a lot of coaches. I think that’s special and that’s hopefully going to make a lot of players want to play for him.”
Can Ebner be a guy who helps Judge build a culture with the Giants?
“I can tell you this,” Ebner said. “Whatever’s asked of me, not only from Joe but the rest of that coaching staff I’m going to do as best as I can to do it to the best of my ability. Whatever capacity they need me in, whatever I’m asked to do I’m going to do it.
“That’s to me what I’ve kind of watched in New England some great players do ... that’s what great teams do is play for each other.”